Marple Town Centre Bench Refurbishments
Did you know all 17 Town Centre Benches were refurbished by Friends of the Park?
In 2013 we realised that we could utilise the skills we learnt in the park to refurbish the neglected benches in Marple Town Centre. By 2019 we had found sponsors for all 17 town centre benches and completed the last full refurbishment. Each refurbished bench has been fitted with a plaque acknowledging the sponsor and identifying that it was refurbished by Friends of the Park. The surplus income over expenditure boosted our skatepark project fund raising and helped with other projects in the park too.
It took two years of persuasion from when we first offered to venture outside of the park and refurbish the benches on Market Street, Derby Way and other areas of the Town Centre before the council allowed us to get started. The main obstacles of power-tools and risk assessment training were finally overcome and in August 2015 we were at last in a position to be able to do the work while being covered by the council's insurance.
Following their refurbishments we also maintained each bench annually. We were not able to do this in 2020 due to the pandemic but recovered the situation in 2021. We have been unable to treat the benches in 2022 or 2023 due to changing demands on our time and are now looking for another organisation to step up and take on this work so we can refocus on the park.
Trial bench completed in August 2015
After a prolonged campaign, lobbying the council to help us get into this position, we were delighted to complete our first trial bench at long last on Sunday 23 August 2015. This was the one on Market Street, near to the NatWest Bank, and we hoped that people who saw it would agree that it was a huge improvement. You can see the transformation in the photos below:
Why do a trial bench?
The objective of doing a trial bench was to show people what we could do and also to discover for ourselves how easy or difficult the task would be. We learned a great deal while doing this first bench and decided we would like to tackle the remainder with our trained volunteers, providing we could raise the separate funding needed. We didn't feel that money raised for the park should be used to refurbish the rest of the town centre benches.
We were grateful to Harmony Decor for becoming our very first sponsor by adopting our trial bench close to their shop. Their sponsorship included the donation of two large tins of black Hammerite to help us tackle more benches in the future. Perfect really!
Benches refurbished in 2016
We began in earnest during the spring of 2016 with benches sponsored by Helen Winterson, the Gould-Martin family, Marple Civic Society, Sew-In, the Bradshaw family, Samuel Oldknow Bar, the Wetton family, SVC Lighting and Electrical, Ardek Ltd, the Munday family and the Carver Theatre. By the end of the year we'd done 12 of the 13 on Market Street and Derby Way.
Benches refurbished and maintained in 2017
In 2017 we refurbished the last bench on Market Street, which was sponsored by 54DegreesNorth.co.uk, and the first on the Hollins, which was sponsored by the McInnes Partnership. This left just three more to find sponsors for on the Hollins. We also retreated all the benches previously refurbished on Market Street and Derby Way to keep them looking smart.
Benches maintained in 2018
This year we re-treated all the refurbished benches again but did not find sponsors for the last three on The Hollins.
Benches refurbished and maintained in 2019
In 2019 we were pleased to find sponsors for the remaining three benches on the Hollins. These were Malcolm Shaw and Sons, the family of the late Douglas Carrington and the family of the late Mandy Carter. We also retreated all the other Town Centre benches too.
All benches maintained in in 2021
Thanks to the pandemic and lockdown restrictions we were unable to do any maintenance in 2020, so they need more work than normal since we had refurbished them all between 2015 and 2019. We began in May, carried on in June and then had a final push in September 2021 to complete them all in time for the Food and Drink Festival.